Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

For questions about the practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering (GMing).

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54
votes
10answers
11k views

How to get a new group into the spirit of the game Paranoia?

My roleplaying group is talking about taking a break from our 4e D&D campaign for a bit, and doing some one-offs. We are planning on doing a few sessions with a GURPS game of some sort, and the ...
4
votes
2answers
208 views

How to explain an ancestral guardian's spirit features suddenly gained at level-up? [closed]

I'm a new DM leading a 5e campaign with new players. Most of the characters, who are a cleric, two druids, and a fighter, do not gain weird new powers when they level up. But the barbarian (still ...
104
votes
18answers
14k views

When should I fudge dice rolls?

When I started my first D&D campaign as a DM, I accidentally rolled and confirmed a crit on a PC from a goblin. It was an instant kill as our campaign had no cleric. That time I decided to fudge ...
21
votes
11answers
4k views

How should I introduce map drawing to my players?

I DMed my first session last week. We are playing the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure from the D&D 5e Starter Set. My players haven't yet entered the first "dungeon" but will likely do so next ...
46
votes
12answers
7k views

Suggestions for decreasing metagaming and increasing player immersion?

This question is posed in a great way over on the Paizo boards, where I hang out since I play/run a lot of Pathfinder. Immersion is one of the key parts of the RPG experience to me, so I loved the ...
8
votes
2answers
355 views

Does the GM get to make a move with every partial success by default?

Defy danger is quite clear, but unless everyone is looking at the GM or there exists a golden opportunity, does the GM get to make a (soft) move with every partial success? For example, volley 7-9, ...
15
votes
6answers
7k views

How do I deal with extremely high passive perception?

I recently noticed how crazy high your passive perception can get. Assuming you are a druid or cleric (i.e. Wisdom being your main stat) with one level in rogue, you can get expertise in perception (...
65
votes
6answers
10k views

How should the DM manage the discrepancy between the player's memory and their PC's memory?

It may happen that, during a session, players don't remember the name of a NPC that they met (or, more generally, information about something that happened) during the previous session. Obviously, ...
14
votes
6answers
3k views

“Epic Level” Shadowrun

Recently I've run into an issue with my Shadowrun campaign for a number of reason, the most key of which is that my players have hit the 180-250 karma level where they've started to ascend to levels ...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

How do I balance a campaign consisting of four kobold PCs?

I am currently planning a campaign consisting of four kobold PCs, using Volo's Guide to Monsters (p. 119) as my starting point for the race. However, I am worried about Pack Tactics and Sunlight ...
38
votes
9answers
9k views

How do I run a game for a larger group?

I am currently running a Dungeons and Dragons 4 campaign for a group of 9 players. Whittling the group down to a more manageable size is not really an option since they are all family. When we do ...
4
votes
2answers
543 views

How do I DM a session zero?

I don't know how am I supposed to DM a session 0 campaign. My friends tell me that I am supposed to tell them what happens so they can create a character that fits the campaign but I think that that ...
20
votes
4answers
5k views

Dealing with 2 Immature Players Who Detract from the Experiences of Others

I have read a number of threads here similar to but not the same as the problem my group and I are having (including this thread, this answer, this answer to a similar situation, and this question ...
58
votes
14answers
45k views

Dislike how players accurately place fireballs. Is there an alternative?

I'm running 5e on a grid with minis. The one thing that I hate is when sorcerers or wizards casts a fireball that perfectly hits enemies in the AOE. The player counts the squares on the grid to ...
6
votes
2answers
170 views

How can I simulate paranoia in a Call of Cthulhu One-Shot?

I'm a new GM to Call of Cthulhu. I want to play a One-Shot where paranoia and hallucinations play a big role (English isn’t my first language, so sorry if some phrases are weird). My idea is ...
3
votes
3answers
161 views

How can I limit firearms and futuristic technology in a multiverse setting?

I'm going to start a series of Infinite Worlds campaigns and I want to prevent things like using firearms/laser/etc... on worlds where the technology is low. Because, you know, what is preventing PCs ...
82
votes
16answers
10k views

How do I stop my PCs from acting like insomniac monkeys on crack?

An issue came up in the last session of my Pathfinder campaign - that of chronic PC impatience. It happens especially when they go to cities and between major adventures. They go into a frenzy of ...
39
votes
7answers
8k views

How do I, as a DM, handle a party that decides to set up an ambush in a dungeon?

Warning: Lost Mine of Phandelver Chapter 1 spoilers below. One of my players then pushed the party into moving out, probably because he's also a DM and could see that I was struggling to find a ...
7
votes
4answers
236 views

Providing prophecies without constraining future player actions?

I'm running an Urban Shadows game, and two of the players came up with a prophecy that was to be announced by some NPCs. It sounded exciting, so I encouraged them and rolled with it. When it came time ...
64
votes
7answers
8k views

As a GM, is it bad form to ask for a moment to think when improvising?

As an amateur GM, I, like many other new GMs, often find myself having to improvise in the wake of unexpected player action. In the past, my approach to this has been to rush to think of something on ...
18
votes
2answers
1k views

In the Tomb of Horrors adventure in Tales from the Yawning Portal, what is the intended scenario for when this event occurs?

Excuse the unspecific question title. Hard to ask this without putting spoilers. In D&D 5e Tales of the Yawning Portal, there is an updated version of the legendary Tomb of Horrors. At page 225, ...
2
votes
1answer
119 views

Is there a game system with good mechanics for a PvP murder mystery? [closed]

My players have expressed interest in a PvP murder mystery, where one of them is secretly the murderer. At first I was enthusiastic, but there are several problems I don't know how to get round, and I ...
58
votes
20answers
8k views

Need out-of-game solution for spell choice paralysis

I could really use some advice from someone with experience with new players dealing with D&D spell analysis paralysis. I'm about to kick off a second D&D 5e campaign for a set of friends ...
131
votes
15answers
23k views

Betrayed by my GM; how can I respond?

I was introduced to D&D three months ago and really delved into the world. I had so much fun creating my character and tried very hard to roleplay him differently from myself. I did my very best ...
30
votes
4answers
2k views

How much to bend “the rules” about populating a world?

All right, I have a question about creating a world and populating it with appropriate monsters, etc. I created a world a little while back, loosely based off of the world found in Michael Stackpole'...
67
votes
15answers
47k views

How do I get my players to form a PC party without just forcing them to?

I believe that it is generally a good thing that all the PCs travel together, as a "party". This way the GM has to manage one environment – not, say, five. The problem is how the GM can ensure such a ...
30
votes
12answers
2k views

How to have a realistic set of languages without making adventuring prohibitively difficult?

"Do you speak Common?" "Of course I do! Everyone speaks Common..." My group is starting a somewhat experimental campaign. We're using a setting that is neither canon (e.g. described in a book) nor ...
-1
votes
2answers
366 views

A player in my game is using homebrew to powergame; how can I stop this? [closed]

A friend of mine is in a game I'm DMing. I've allowed homebrew, so now he's using complicated and weird classes to get an edge. How can I solve this without killing and or banning his character and ...
5
votes
5answers
4k views

How can I balance the power of loot between player characters?

The 5e DMG only gives proximate levels of item strength: common, uncommon, rare, very rare, and legendary. The item levels don't really seem to help me judge if two items of the same rarity will be ...
10
votes
2answers
438 views

What are the advantages and disadvantages of DMs showing a map of the city to the players?

I am going to start DMing Tomb of Annihilation soon; my question is mostly about the cities of Baldur's Gate, Nyanzaru, and Omu. I see two options on how I can introduce the city to them: I could ...
29
votes
4answers
4k views

What is the best way to deal with NPC-NPC combat?

I'm about to run a premade adventure, and reading through it I see a potential situation where one group of monsters could, though PC actions, end up fighting each other. As a PC, I hate seeing my ...
53
votes
8answers
12k views

My party bypassed a combat encounter. Should they still get XP?

Some thug bandits set up a road block on the main road to extract a toll from passersby. It was twilight when my party encountered them. They used the Rogue to scout ahead, and they ultimately decided ...
11
votes
2answers
535 views

How can I model the mechanics of an army battlefield scene?

TL;DR; I want to model a strategic battlefield fight for my players to command and participate. I'm seeking advice on how to model it mechanically so that it is exciting for the players. Background ...
13
votes
4answers
850 views

How can I convey to my group that they have to discipline their murderhobo?

Introduction I guess most GMs have had a group of murderhobos in their sessions before and there are quite a few nice answers dealing with how to react to them, these threads have nice answers, but I ...
31
votes
3answers
3k views

Should I discuss the type of campaign with my players?

The campaign I’m preparing is designed to give the illusion of choice via side quests and an open world (not really open), but with a main story line that will be pushed into them sooner or later. The ...
1
vote
0answers
255 views

How do I deal with a problem player overstepping their boundaries in a 1-on-1 campaign? [closed]

I’m GMing a 1-on-1 campaign (it’s all homebrew, by the way). My player likes to weigh in on what’s happening, and sometimes oversteps her boundary into GMing territory. I let it slide a lot, since it ...
16
votes
2answers
3k views

Will it cause any balance problems to have PCs level up and gain the benefits of a long rest mid-fight?

I am planning an encounter for 4 level 2 players and I am planning to have them level up mid combat. I wanted to describe it sort of like a power within awakening like many popular animes have. To do ...
29
votes
7answers
44k views

How can I make combat more tactically interesting for me as a DM?

For me, I find it very difficult to enjoy DMing combat encounters. Combat is generally very dry and monotonous. What can I do to make combat more enjoyable for me as a DM? Some of the issues I have ...
6
votes
2answers
298 views

Designing 'Gandalf' NPCs [closed]

I'm designing an NPC that is meant to be a manager/mentor to the players. Contrary to the archetype I've just invoked by mentioning Gandalf, she isn't some divine force incarnate-she's just somewhat ...
26
votes
11answers
2k views

Excuses for opponents using nonlethal force? [closed]

In plotting out low-level encounters at the start of a campaign (especially with new players) I prefer to create opponents who don't want to kill the PCs right away. Instead, I generally have them ...
7
votes
6answers
1k views

Knocking out NPCs

Alright, so I'm thinking up a stealth based mission that involves sneaking into a guarded manor and stealing an artifact. Needless to say, it would be best if this was a quiet affair. I have most of ...
16
votes
5answers
4k views

What method can I use to design a dungeon difficult enough that the PCs can't make it through without killing them?

The first 'round' of my campaign will end with the deaths (and resurrections) of all of the players. Their role before catastrophe strikes is as teachers in a philanthropically funded school in an ...
1
vote
0answers
130 views

Which is easier to implement: a time based insurmountable obstacle or a “meat gate” one? [closed]

The first 'round' of my campaign will end with the deaths (and resurrections) of all of the players. Their role before catastrophe strikes is as teachers in a philanthropically funded school in an ...
13
votes
4answers
396 views

How can I encourage PCs to come back to Home Base when their quests are far from home?

I am new to DM'ing and I have been thinking of the option of a Home Base for my party. I like the idea of building up a base, with craftsmen and libraries, etc for research and training and also to ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

How to track persistent area effects with TotM?

My group is trying theater of the mind (TotM) battles instead of using a mat with miniatures. A challenge we're having is when someone casts a spell like entangle, which affects a location. On a map, ...
3
votes
1answer
339 views

My players' characters tried to rob a jewelry store and failed. How do I play it out? [closed]

So, I am running a heroic campaign where a bunch of "god's chosen" people (led by the cleric in the party) are preparing to become the "spear's end" in the war with fiends who plan to invade the ...
21
votes
5answers
717 views

Dealing with leaving players

Somewhat similar to this, but this is a different case with different answers (Or so I hope). I've been playing "the dark eye", my PnP of choice, for a few years now and have recently taken up GM'ing ...
0
votes
2answers
278 views

Assign mini 'secret' quest to one of the party members? [closed]

I'm planning a Dungeons and Dragons campaign set in a province undergoing a separatist insurrection. I want the theme/shtick of the campaign to be the idea of choices and unintended consequences. The ...
0
votes
2answers
133 views

Gameplay-to-cutscene ratio: how interactive should I make the introduction to the campaign? [closed]

I'm planning a campaign with a specific backdrop-the characters are employees of a certain organization and this is their first day on the job. The organization and the job will no longer actually ...
2
votes
0answers
229 views

How can I get my players interested in my campaign again? [closed]

I am an experienced DM, having run a number of campaigns with the same group of players. We're all in middle school. I'm currently running a campaign that I made myself for D&D5e. Recently, my ...